GRE Verbal : Understanding the Meaning of Phrases, Sentences, and Paragraphs in Single-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Understanding The Meaning Of Phrases, Sentences, And Paragraphs In Single Answer Questions

Baseball, Then and Now, by Will Floyd

The twenty-first-century baseball fan would hardly recognize the nineteenth-century version of the national pastime. The massive stadiums, pristine uniforms, and even most articles of equipment integral to the modern game were all unfamiliar to players in the late-nineteenth-century.

The current number of balls and strikes that each batter is allowed was not settled until the 1890s. Fielding gloves were not utilized until the 1880s. Players could even call for a high or low pitch as recently as 1900. The biggest misconception about nineteenth-century baseball from a modern point-of-view is assuming all pitching was done the way it is now. In fact, until 1893 pitchers operated out of a box a mere 45 feet away. The short distance was no problem, as the original rules for pitching required an underhand motion. As athletes have done for centuries, pitchers of the nineteenth century figured out ways to throw harder and circumvent the rules. Eventually, pitchers were taking a running start from 45 feet away and throwing overhand. Baseball players and administrators quickly realized that such pitching was a safety hazard at 45 feet, and it creates a tedious game in which no one could score. Baseball pushed the pitcher back to sixty feet and six inches, introduced the pitcher’s mound, and the slab the pitcher must be rooted to, pushing baseball closer to its modern form. These changes in baseball’s early years made the game the treasured sport it is today.

In the passage, the phrase "such pitching" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

throwing with an overhand motion

throwing overhand with a running start from a short distance

throwing from a box

throwing from a slab

throwing from 60 feet, 6 inches

Correct answer:

throwing overhand with a running start from a short distance

Explanation:

The passage details many different ways pitchers threw the ball in the nineteenth century; however, the sentence that begins "such pitching" discusses the hazards that caused the pitchers to be moved back to 60 feet, 6 inches. In particular, the phrase "such pitching" refers to pitchers throwing overhand from 45 feet away, which is mentioned in the preceeding sentence.

Example Question #12 : Understanding The Meaning Of Phrases, Sentences, And Paragraphs In Single Answer Questions

Technology of the Future by Will Floyd

Technological revolutions rarely come in expected forms. Predictions of the future are usually found to be humorous in retrospect, as the theories put forward usually involve too much of the present. Typically, an author who imagines the future sees some small developments in the technology already in use, without countenancing a possible sudden change in how gadgets are made. Science fiction from before the personal computer’s rise tended to show computers as large machines only run by specialists. Before the development of tablets, small reading devices belonging to each person were hardly imagined. None of these now strange conjectures on the future should be ridiculed. Even those researchers and scientists who are trying to create new breakthroughs in technology often have no idea of what their work will produce. The personal computer was initially divided into office models and home models, which were supposed to have different graphics, power, and performance specifics. In reality, people desired the office model in their home. Such adoptions happen all the time in the world of technology, with such disparate examples as the personal computer and the Model-T automobile both changing future technology by becoming the most popular forms in the marketplace.

The phrase "technological revolutions" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

home computer users adopting the office computer specifications

researchers and scientists working on new technology

the development of the personal computer and the Model-T.

science fiction speculation on the future of technology

new forms of technology that surpass existing forms

Correct answer:

new forms of technology that surpass existing forms

Explanation:

The "technological revolutions" mentioned in the first sentence is the opening salvo to the entire passage. This phrase introduces the entire theme of the paragraph: that developments in technology often become hard to predict. The specific developments are the new technology that replaces older forms.

Example Question #12 : Understanding The Meaning Of Phrases, Sentences, And Paragraphs In Single Answer Questions

Technology of the Future by Will Floyd

Technological revolutions rarely come in expected forms. Predictions of the future are usually found to be humorous in retrospect, as the theories put forward usually involve too much of the present. Typically, an author who imagines the future sees some small developments in the technology already in use, without countenancing a possible sudden change in how gadgets are made. Science fiction from before the personal computer’s rise tended to show computers as large machines only run by specialists. Before the development of tablets, small reading devices belonging to each person were hardly imagined. None of these now strange conjectures on the future should be ridiculed. Even those researchers and scientists who are trying to create new breakthroughs in technology often have no idea of what their work will produce. The personal computer was initially divided into office models and home models, which were supposed to have different graphics, power, and performance specifics. In reality, people desired the office model in their home. Such adoptions happen all the time in the world of technology, with such disparate examples as the personal computer and the Model-T automobile both changing future technology by becoming the most popular forms in the marketplace.

"The theories put forward" referred to in the passage are __________.

Possible Answers:

the predictions of the future

technological revolutions

some small developments in the technology already in use

humorous in retrospect

a possible sudden change

Correct answer:

the predictions of the future

Explanation:

The "theories put forward" describe what could be a possible technological revolution. The specific revolution, however, are not described by the phrase. The "theories put forward" are actually the "predictions of the future" mentioned at the beginning of the sentence.

Example Question #221 : Reading Comprehension

Fact and Representation by Will Floyd

Professional wrestling is frequently criticized because of its unreality. For the wrestlers, promoters, and fans who love professional wrestling, the very fact that professional wrestling is “fake” is central to their love of wrestling. This love finds its home in the concept of “kayfabe.” Kayfabe is the fabricated world of wrestling, covering every element of its storytelling, from the outlandish characters to bitter feuds, even to the specific politics about which wrestler will become champion.

Throughout the twentieth century, kayfabe was a closely guarded secret held only by those who were in the know about a wrestling company. Wrestlers could not appear out of character at any moment they were in public, for fear this revelation would give away the secrets of the wrestling promotion. A good guy wrestler could never even socialize with a bad guy wrestler, for fear that fans would see enemies together. While still quite fake, this strict adherence to the created world issued an air of believability for wrestling’s biggest fans. In recent years, wrestling’s curtain of believability has been torn apart, as the internet has allowed many personal details about wrestlers to come to light. Nonetheless, many wrestling fans still only refer to their heroes by their created names, understanding them through their invented personalities.

The phrase "curtain of believability" refers to __________

Possible Answers:

the love of professional wrestling fans.

the issues presented by supposed rivals socializing.

the created world of kayfabe.

the politics about which wrestler will become champion.

the bitter feuds among wrestlers.

Correct answer:

the created world of kayfabe.

Explanation:

The "curtain of believability" is used by the author to indicate kayfabe has in recent years not been as strong in professional wrestling. Specifically, the author discusses the curtain being "torn apart," indicating the "curtain of believability" refers to "the created world of kayfabe."

Example Question #221 : Reading Comprehension

Adapted from Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy By the President by Joshua Reynolds (1778)

All the objects which are exhibited to our view by nature, upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects. The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness, minuteness, or imperfection. But it is not every eye that perceives these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms—and which, by a long habit of observing what any set of objects of the same kind have in common, that alone can acquire the power of discerning what each wants in particular. This long laborious comparison should be the first study of the painter who aims at the greatest style. By this means, he acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by herself, her imperfect state by her more perfect. His eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original—and what may seem a paradox, he learns to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object. This idea of the perfect state of nature, which the artist calls the ideal beauty, is the great leading principle by which works of genius are conducted. By this, Phidias acquired his fame. He wrought upon a sober principle what has so much excited the enthusiasm of the world—and by this method you, who have courage to tread the same path, may acquire equal reputation.

The phrase "the great leading principle" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

"the perfect state of nature"

"ideal beauty"

"works of genius"

"a just idea of beautiful forms"

"accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things"

Correct answer:

"the perfect state of nature"

Explanation:

The context of the sentence will help find the answer to the question. Two clauses precede the phrase in question: "This idea of the perfect state of nature" and "which the artist calls the ideal beauty." As the second clause describes the first, "the great leading principle" is "the perfect state of nature."

Example Question #222 : Reading Comprehension

"History and Myth" by Will Floyd

Popular ideas about historical characters are often quite fallacious. In reality, Napoleon Bonaparte was not short, but a perfectly average size for his time. Paul Revere did not make a solo midnight ride to warn the colonial militia that the British were coming. Such a dearth of information exists about the lives of figures like Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry that scholars wonder if they even existed. Despite scholarly concern and arguments, these popular characters and myths continue to form a large part of the common historical imagination.

Recently, some historians have begun to study these myths and legends. No matter how whimsical or ungrounded such stories are, these legends hold a key to how people interpret history. Colleagues seeking to rebut such studies have derided those scholars who are analyzing myths. The more skeptical historians accuse the historians who analyze myths and legends as promoting conspiracy theories and providing cover to people with fringe beliefs. In response, the scholars studying the apocryphal stories claim that they are actually helping to dispel such marginal ideas. By understanding why odd stories and fables get constructed, these new historians think that they can better pursue their goal of understanding the past in order to better navigate the future. They also think that by understanding how fallacious myths and legends develop may help fewer to arise in the first place.

Underlined at the end of the first paragraph, the phrase "common historical imagination" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

what all people believe about the ride of Paul Revere and the height of Napoleon Bonaparte

the actual truth behind many historical myths and legends

historical research that reveals the facts surrounding historical figures

the beliefs held by the majority of people about historical figures and stories

apocryphal stories and legends about historical figures

Correct answer:

the beliefs held by the majority of people about historical figures and stories

Explanation:

The sentence explicitly notes that "popular characters and myths" are "a large part of the common historical imagination." This does not mean the "common historical imagination" is made up entirely of such myths, but is simply a part of it. The word "common" indicates this imagination is held by many people.

Example Question #102 : Meaning And Structure In Single Answer Questions

"Science Fiction and Society" by Will Floyd

Science fiction and fantasy novels are often seen as pure escapism; however, many authors use the fantastic or futuristic aspects of their work to comment on contemporary problems. Normally this is done by including things that seem quite familiar to a reader, but giving them small twists rooted in the author’s fabricated world. Subjects like racism are often hard for certain writers to analyze without causing an uproar among certain readers. By subverting the prejudice to being directed against a space alien, a completely unfamiliar being, a science fiction author can reinterpret why humans possess hatred for other groups. This can take the form of prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against. These analyses show the erratic and arbitrary nature of racism.

Fantasy books can offer a similar level of surprise for readers who think they know what the usual course of events would be in the regular world. By making the fantasy the focus of what's occurring in the narrative, love stories, war stories, and simple tales of overcoming obstacles can become pleasantly mystifying. Fantasy authors can create interesting takes on basic morality by simply injecting a small amount of magic into an old tale. Black-and-white approaches to good and evil seem much less trite and hackneyed when set in a fantastical, magical world. The ability for an audience to get lost in a magical world changes the expectations of the reader. Often, the threat of destruction in a beloved fantasy world will seem a darker occurrence than the threat to the world in which they live. This attachment to a created world allows science fiction and fantasy authors to discuss serious issues in a different manner to authors in other genres.

The phrase "the author's fabricated world" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the fantastical or technological elements an author borrowed from the work of others

the cultural and social environment that authors live in in their everyday lives

the physical construction of a hardcover or paperback book

the societal issues authors sometimes confront in novels

the fantastical and constructed world of science fiction and fantasy genres

Correct answer:

the fantastical and constructed world of science fiction and fantasy genres

Explanation:

The entire passage discusses ways in which science fiction and fantasy authors create odd and fantastical worlds. In particular, the author shows how these worlds can allow authors to comment on social issues.  As "fabricated" means made or constructed, the correct answer needs to reflect this aspect of constructing a world.

Example Question #222 : Reading Comprehension

"Fact and Representation" by Will Floyd

Professional wrestling is frequently criticized because of its unreality. For the wrestlers, promoters, and fans who love professional wrestling, the very fact that professional wrestling is “fake” is central to their love of wrestling. This love finds its home in the concept of “kayfabe.” Kayfabe is the fabricated world of wrestling, covering every element of its storytelling, from its outlandish characters to its bitter feuds, even to the specific politics about which wrestler will become champion.

Throughout the twentieth century, kayfabe was a closely guarded secret held only by those who were in the know about a wrestling company. Wrestlers could not appear out of character at any moment they were in public, for fear this revelation would give away the secrets of the wrestling promotion. A "good guy" wrestler could never even socialize with a "bad guy" wrestler, for fear that fans would see enemies together. While still quite fake, this strict adherence to the created world issued an air of believability for wrestling’s biggest fans. In recent years, wrestling’s curtain of believability has been torn apart, as the internet has allowed many personal details about wrestlers to come to light. Nonetheless, many wrestling fans still only refer to their heroes by their created names, understanding them through their invented personalities.

In the passage, the underlined phrase "this love" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the concept of "kayfabe"

the admiration of wrestlers, promoters, and fans for professional wrestling

outlandish characters and bitter feuds

specific politics about which wrestlers will become champion

the fabricated world of wrestling

Correct answer:

the admiration of wrestlers, promoters, and fans for professional wrestling

Explanation:

The phrase "this love" is used as a bridge between two points. Specifically, it is used in a sentence to begin discussing "kayfabe." It refers, however, to the "admiration of wrestlers, promoters, and fans for professional wrestling."

Example Question #13 : Understanding The Meaning Of Phrases, Sentences, And Paragraphs In Single Answer Questions

"Political Representation" by Will Floyd

Pundits often decry the gridlock in Washington, D.C. Partisanship frequently makes legislators oppose bills they have supported in the past. Political grandstanding regularly takes the place of reasoned compromise or deal-making. Many political scientists are trying to find ways to resolve these issues within constitutional boundaries. One of the more popular suggestions is a different voting system called proportional representation. Proportional representation operates under the theory that each vote will help place a candidate in the legislature, rather than the current winner take all method of elections in the United States. Under proportional representation, candidates do not run for a specific seat in a particular district, but instead are part of a ranked list of candidates for each political party; therefore, if a political party receives thirty percent of the votes, thirty percent of the seats will be held by this party. Critics of proportional representation claim the system gives too much power to fringe candidates and political parties, whose only goal would be to destroy the political system. This cynical view of proportional representation stems from the example of countries currently using proportional representation. As it is, political scientists who do argue for proportional representation are trying to find a way around the current problems that exist in the United States’ political system, and feel a third party might create new pressures on the two party system currently causing such problems. The advocates of proportional representation do not argue that proportional representation is a perfect system, but also argue that we are not currently using a perfect system and that we need something to change.

The phrase "one of the more popular suggestions" in the passage refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

reasoned compromise

proportional representation

different voting systems

constitutional boundaries

political grandstanding

Correct answer:

proportional representation

Explanation:

The sentence that begins with the phrase "One of the more popular suggestions" does have a somehwhat complex structure. However, parsing the sentence makes it clear what the correct answer is. "One of the more popular suggestions is a different voting system called proportional representation." As the middle phrase describes "proportional representation," then that is the correct answer.

Example Question #224 : Reading Comprehension

Science-fiction and Society by Will Floyd

Science-fiction and fantasy novels are often seen as pure escapism; however, many authors use the fantasy or futuristic aspects of their work to comment on contemporary problems. Normally this is done by having things that seem quite familiar to a reader, but giving them small twists rooted in the author’s fabricated world. Subjects like racism are often hard for certain writers to analyze without causing an uproar among certain readers. By subverting the prejudice to being directed against a space alien, a completely unfamiliar being, a science fiction author can reinterpret why humans possess hatred for other groups. This can take the form of prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against. These analyses show the erratic and arbitrary nature of racism.

Fantasy books can offer a similar level of surprise for readers who think they know what the usual course of events would be in the regular world. By making the fantasy the focus of what's occurring in the narrative, love stories, war stories, and simple tales of overcoming obstacles can become pleasantly mystifying. Fantasy authors can create interesting takes on basic morality by simply injecting a small amount of magic into an old tale. Black-and-white approaches to good and evil seem much less trite and hackneyed when set in a fantastical, magical world. The ability for an audience to get lost in a magical world changes the expectations of the reader. Often, the threat of destruction in a beloved fantasy world will seem a darker occurrence than the threat to the world in which they live. This attachment to a created world allows science fiction and fantasy authors to discuss serious issues in a different manner to authors in other genres.

The phrase "these analyses" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the erratic and arbitrary nature of racism

hatred for other groups

prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against

the usual course of events in the regular world

small twists rooted in the author's fabricated world

Correct answer:

prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against

Explanation:

The author's use of the phrase "these analyses," comes in the last sentence of the first paragraph, and therefore can rule out topics mentioned later. Additionally, by coming at the beginning of the sentence, it will refer to the topic mentioned immediately before in the prior sentence.

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